THE ARIZONA TRAIL IN GILA COUNTY, ARIZONA

The Arizona National Scenic Trail (Arizona Trail) stretches over 800 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico to Utah, connecting deserts, mountains, canyons, wilderness, history, communities and people.  The Arizona Trail has something for everyone, from remote and challenging wilderness to easily accessible passages near many Gateway Communities, this trail showcases Arizona’s diverse vegetation, wildlife, scenery, and history in a way that provides a unique and unparalleled Arizona experience. 

 

Gila County's access points to the trail are thought by many to be the easiest and most approachable, ascending though dramatic mountains of the Superstition Wilderness to emerge with views overlooking cobalt-blue Roosevelt Lake -- before proceeding to the Mogollon Rim, where you will find lush green forests of Ponderosa Pine! Not to mention a rewarding weary hiker stopover in Pine AZ -- an AZ-trail-friendly community with a B+B that welcomes hikers,  and Gila County’s northernmost  (and only,  for now)  brewery -- where a thirsty hiker can enjoy an Arizona Trail Ale!

#27 - Blue Ridge


LOCATION:
Mogollon Rim to Highway 87

LENGTH:
15.4 miles

SOUTHERN TRAILHEAD: FR 300 TRAILHEAD
GPS ​​​​Coordinates: 34.45396° N, 111.25078° W

ACCESS:
From the intersection of AZ 87 and AZ 260 north of Pine, drive east 2.6 miles on AZ 87 then turn right (south) toward FR 300. Go 0.1 miles and turn left onto FR 300. Avoid the frequent side roads and drive 12 miles on FR 300 to a turnoff on the left (north) at a historical marker for the Battle of Big Dry Wash. This is where the AZT crosses FR 300. Turn left and follow a power line 0.3 mile to General Springs Cabin. The road curves right to a small parking area and the trailhead.

NORTHERN ACCESS POINT: HIGHWAY 87
GPS Coordinates: 34.60751° N, 111.20061° W

ACCESS:
From the intersection of AZ 87 and AZ 260 north of Pine, drive northeast 19.5 miles on AZ 87 then turn right (south) on FR 138. (This is about 0.8 miles west of the Blue Ridge Ranger Station on AZ 87.) Signs on the highway point to Moqui Campground. The trailhead is about 100 yards south on FR 138, on the left (east) side of the road.

TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION:
From General Springs Cabin the trail follows General Springs Canyon until it reaches a trail junction. It then climbs out of the canyon on the west side and follows a two-track road and then more trail. The trail crosses FR 123 and heads north until it reaches FR 123A. It stays on this forest road up to East Clear Creek. After steeply descending and then steeply ascending the creek (upstream of Blue Ridge Reservoir) the trail works its way up to FR 751. After crossing the road it proceeds east and then north up to the drop into Blue Ridge Campground. From here the trail continues north and finally reaches Highway 87 at the junction with FR 138.

DIFFICULTY:
Moderate

For more information about this section of the Arizona Trail visit www.aztrail.org. This information was provided by aztrail.org




#26 - Highline Trail


LOCATION Pine Trailhead to the Mogollon Rim
LENGTH 20.2 miles
SOUTHERN TRAILHEAD: PINE TRAILHEAD GPS Coordinates: 34.37432° N, 111.44310° W
ACCESS Drive south of Pine on AZ 87 for 0.6 miles and turn left (east) to reach a large parking area and the trailhead.
NORTHERN TRAILHEAD: FR 300 TRAILHEAD GPS Coordinates: 34.45368° N, 111.25088° W
ACCESS From the intersection of AZ 87 and AZ 260 north of Pine, drive east 2.6 miles on AZ 87 then turn right (south) toward FR 300. Go 0.1 miles and turn left onto FR 300. Avoid the frequent side roads and drive 12 miles on FR 300 to a turnoff on the left (north) at a historical marker for the Battle of Big Dry Wash. This is where the AZT crosses FR 300. Turn left and follow a power line 0.3 mile to General Springs Cabin. The road curves right to a small parking area and the trailhead.
TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION East from the Pine Trailhead the trail climbs two long, gentle switchbacks ending at an open area overlooking the eastern front of the Mazatzal Range. Working its way east along the Highline Trail (#31), it skirts the southern edge of Milk Ranch Point, passes a nice camping site at Red Rock Spring and crosses Webber Creek at the Geronimo Trailhead. Excellent creek-side camping locations are to the right, a few hundred yards south of the creek crossing. Continuing east, the trail crosses Bray Creek and then comes to the Washington Park Trailhead. Here the trail crosses a utility road, passes a trail register and drops to a steel bridge across the East Verde River, a small stream at this headwaters location. Across the bridge and left around a quick S-turn the AZT departs the Highline Trail for the Colonel Devin Trail (#290), marked by a sign on a very stout post. The trail continues north along the east stream bank through tall pine, alder and walnut trees, crosses a small puncheon bridge, another steel bridge and one more puncheon before climbing through the rocks and joining the utility road. Near the base of the steep ascent to the Mogollon Rim the trail turns sharply right. A few hundred yards ahead at a switchback the faint Tunnel Trail (#390) departs the AZT. The AZT continues climbing the Mogollon Rim where the passage terminates at FR 300 near the Battle of Big Dry Wash historical marker.
DIFFICULTY Moderate




# 25 - Whiterock Mesa


LOCATION The East Verde River to Pine
LENGTH 22.7 miles
SOUTHERN ACCESS POINT: THE EAST VERDE RIVER GPS Coordinates: 34.22915° N, 111.51299° W
NOTE: This trailhead is not directly accessible by vehicles. The nearest vehicle access point (34.21468° N, 111.48250° W) is 4 miles east of the trail at the wilderness boundary.
ACCESS From the town of Payson at the intersection of AZ 87 and Main Street; take Main Street west for 2 miles, which turns into Country Club Drive. Near the end of Country Club Drive, the road passes a sanitation plant, crosses a creek and continues on paved road for another 6 miles. This newly paved road is referred to as Doll Baby Ranch Rd. or LF Ranch Rd. depending on which map is being used. At this point it becomes a dirt doubletrack (FR 406). Continue on FR 406 for approximately 3 miles, passing City Creek Trailhead and Doll Baby Ranch, eventually arriving at the locked gate. This is the Doll Baby Trailhead; parking and camping are allowed.
From the trailhead, walk around the gate and hike on the doubletrack for 3.9 miles. The road will wind around the hills and eventually level out in the valley near the ranch. The AZT will intersect the road from the west as a faint singletrack.
NORTHERN TRAILHEAD: PINE TRAILHEAD GPS Coordinates: 34.37432° N, 111.44310° W
ACCESS Drive south of Pine on AZ 87 for 0.6 miles and turn left (east) to reach a large parking area and the trailhead.
TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION Starting on the north side of the East Verde River the trail follows the Rock Creek drainage up to Polk Spring and then climbs up on Polles Mesa. It reaches Red Saddle Tank and a gate, another gate, turns to the east and comes to Whiterock Spring. There is a steep climb back to the west and then the trail begins working its way across Whiterock Mesa. After crossing a drainage the trail climbs again along Saddle Ridge. There is another gate and the trail continues mostly north to the wilderness boundary and another gate. The trail passes through Saddle Ridge Pasture, another gate, and then reaches FR 194. The route follows FR 194 for ~1.2 miles before turning right (southeast) onto a two-track running under a powerline. The route follows this rocky road in a southeast direction, then turns to the right onto FR 251 and veers away from the powerlines and then back towards them. The route turns to the south and descends to a barricaded gate, turns east past East Tank and through another barricaded gate. The trail descends past Ridge Tank and around to Oak Spring and a trail junction with Walnut Trail (#251). From here the trail climbs out of Oak Spring Canyon, runs more-or-less level for nearly a mile before descending past Bradshaw Tank to Pine Creek. A short ways downstream the trail heads east again and loops around to Highway 87. After crossing the highway it passes a resupply box near a fence corner and then quickly hits a junction (stay left through a heavy steel gate) and loop back to the Pine trailhead.
DIFFICULTY Moderate

For more information about this section of the Arizona Trail visit www.aztrail.org. This information was provided by aztrail.org




#24 - Red Hills


LOCATION The Park to the East Verde River
LENGTH 10.9 miles
SOUTHERN ACCESS POINT: RED HILLS TRAIL JUNCTION GPS Coordinates: 34.18046° N, 111.50359° W NOTE: There is no vehicle access to this wilderness trailhead. See adjoining passages for additional information.
ACCESS From Payson on AZ 87 drive west on Main Street. Stay on the main road past a golf course, where the pavement ends and the road becomes FR 406. About 10 miles from AZ 87, park at City Creek Trailhead on the east side of the road. Hike southwest up the Mazatzal Divide Trail #23 for approximately 5.75 miles to the junction of the Mazatzal Divide trail and the Red Hills Trail.
NORTHERN ACCESS POINT: THE EAST VERDE RIVER GPS Coordinates: 34.22915° N, 111.51299° W NOTE: This trailhead is not directly accessible by vehicles. The nearest vehicle access point (34.21468° N, 111.48250° W) is 4 miles east of the trail at the wilderness boundary.
ACCESS East Verde River (LF Ranch), via Doll Baby Trailhead: From the town of Payson at the intersection of AZ 87 and Main Street; take Main Street west for 2 miles, which turns into Country Club Drive. Near the end of Country Club Drive, the road passes a sanitation plant, crosses a creek and continues on paved road for another 6 miles. This newly paved road is referred to as Doll Baby Ranch Rd. or LF Ranch Rd. depending on which map is being used. At this point it becomes a dirt doubletrack (FR 406). Continue on FR 406 for approximately 3 miles, passing City Creek Trailhead and Doll Baby Ranch, eventually arriving at the locked gate. This is the Doll Baby Trailhead; parking and camping are allowed. From the trailhead, walk around the gate and hike on the doubletrack for 3.9 miles. The road will wind around the hills and eventually level out in the valley near the ranch. The AZT will intersect the road from the west as a faint singletrack.
TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION This passage begins at the junction of the Red Hills Trail and the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23). From here the trail heads crosses the upper end of a City Creek side canyon, passes Knob Mountain, and drops down to the junction with the Brush Trail (#249). Following this trail it crosses a drainage, climbs up the other side and then curves around to the north and drops down to Houston Creek. After crossing several drainages the trail reaches a saddle on Bullfrog Ridge and then switchbacks down into Bullfrog Canyon. It climbs part way out, becomes an old two-track road and then begins descending along the side of the canyon. It turns to the right and becomes a trail again. The trail works its way past Copper Mountain and comes to a road. This is the entry to the LF Ranch. The trail loops around to the east of the ranch and then reaches the East Verde River.
DIFFICULTY Moderate

For more information about this section of the Arizona Trail visit www.aztrail.org. This information was provided by aztrail.org




#23 -Mazatzal Divide


LOCATION Mt Peeley to the Park
LENGTH 24.3 miles
SOUTHERN TRAILHEAD: MT PEELEY TRAILHEAD GPS Coordinates: 34.00219° N, 111.47724° W
ACCESS Drive 4.8 miles north of Sunflower/Bushnell Tanks on AZ 87 to MP 222.8. Turn left (west) onto a paved road (FR 627) which is opposite the Mt. Ord turnoff. Follow FR 627 downhill for 1.2 miles and then turn right over a cattle guard onto FR 201. Drive 9.3 miles on FR 201 to the Mount Peeley TH where there is a small parking area. The sign here says Cornucopia Trail (#86) and indicates a 0.5-mile hike to the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23) and the AZT.
NORTHERN ACCESS POINT: RED HILLS TRAIL JUNCTION GPS Coordinates: 34.18046° N, 111.50359° W NOTE: There is no vehicle access to this wilderness trailhead. See adjoining passages for additional information.
ACCESS From Payson on AZ 87 drive west on Main Street. Stay on the main road past a golf course, where the pavement ends and the road becomes FR 406. About 10 miles from AZ 87, park at City Creek Trailhead on the east side of the road. Hike southwest up the Mazatzal Divide Trail #23 for approximately 5.75 miles to the junction of the Mazatzal Divide trail and the Red Hills Trail.
TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION This entire passage is on the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23). From the junction with the Cornucopia Trail 0.5 miles from the Mt. Peeley Trailhead the route works its way up and around Mt. Peeley. It passes the wilderness boundary, gets around the head of a drainage and then turns to the north and follows a ridgeline. It circles counter-clockwise around an unnamed peak and then descends down to the Bear Spring turnoff. It climbs up and over the previous ridgeline and drops down to the Shake Tree Trail junction. From here the trail continues north and downhill, passing Mazatzal Peak. The trail climbs and then drops again down to the Barnhardt Trail junction. Turning west the trail continues downhill, passing Chilson Spring, contouring for a short ways and then climbs above the North Fork of Deadman Creek. It passes Horse Camp Seep, continues climbing and reaches Hopi Spring. The trail crosses the upper end of Deadman Creek, heads west and then turns north and begins descending along the east side of Maverick Basin. The trail continues northbound and then turns to the west and comes to The Park and the intersection of the North Peak Trail (#24). A few miles further north it reaches the end of the passage at the Red Hills Trail junction.
DIFFICULTY Moderate

For more information about this section of the Arizona Trail visit www.aztrail.org. This information was provided by aztrail.org




#22 - Saddle Mountain


LOCATION Sunflower to Mount Peeley
LENGTH 16.6 miles
SOUTHERN ACCESS POINT: SUNFLOWER GPS Coordinates: 33.86250° N, 111.47278° W
ACCESS From Phoenix, take AZ 87 north to FR 22 (Bushnell Tanks Road). Turn right and park at the gate about 150 yards off the highway. This road is currently closed to vehicle traffic by Tonto National Forest. You can walk down the road about 0.5 miles and turn right at the sign and drop into Sycamore Creek flood plain. Walk up stream following the cairns and across two drainages, follow the next drainage down to and across Sycamore Creek. Climb out of the creek bed, turn right and follow the trail to the AZT. A large metal sign marks the connection to the AZT.
NORTHERN TRAILHEAD: MOUNT PEELEY TRAILHEAD GPS Coordinates: 34.00219° N, 111.47724° W
ACCESS Usually closed for winter and not advised when wet. Drive 4.75 miles northeast of Sunflower on AZ 87 past mile marker 222 and, at the top of the long climb, turn left (west) on to FR 627A. Drive 1.25 miles on this winding paved road to a junction with a gravel road entering from the right. Cross the cattle guard and drive another 1.25 miles to a 3-way junction; stay right on to FR 201 and continue 9.5 miles along this narrow, twisting road to the Mount Peeley Trailhead and a small parking area. The AZT is 0.5 miles west of the parking lot along the Cornucopia Trail (#86) where Passage 22 lies to the south, and Passage 23, also called the Mazatzal Divide Trail, heads north.
TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION From the Highway 87 underpass, the trail follows a drainage west a short distance and then turns right. It goes through one gate and then another and then swings north and through another gate. It continues northwest, reaches yet another gate, goes up a drainage, crosses it and gets to another gate. It then passes under twin powerlines and comes to a trail junction marked by a steel AZT sign. Cross F TH is 0.5 miles to the right/east. A turn to the left here, through another gate and the trail begins working up a drainage. It goes over a low saddle and follows another drainage, curving around to the north and then northeast, reaching the junction with Saddle Mountain Trail 91. Mormon Grove TH is 0.5 miles to the east. The AZT follows Trail 91 north to the junction with Sheep Creek Trail 88. It takes Trail 88 a short mile, dropping into wooded McFarland Canyon (great camping) where it takes Thicket Spring Trail 95 downstream east for 0.5 mile, across the Wilderness boundary to a sharp left turn up out of the canyon. Another mile and it reaches the junction with West Fork Trail 260, portions of which were rebuilt in 2015. The AZT takes this new route east, dropping steeply into an unnamed canyon and reaches the Cornucopia Trail 86, where it turns sharply left/north and follows the drainage 1.5 miles to the junction with the Thicket Spring Trail 95. A right (east) turn here and another mile climbing and the trail reaches the Mazatzal Divide Trail junction marked with a steel AZT sign and the end of the passage. Mt Peeley TH, a remote TH accessible in dry conditions is 0.5 miles east.
DIFFICULTY Moderate

For more information about this section of the Arizona Trail visit www.aztrail.org. This information was provided by aztrail.org




#21 - Pine Mountain


LOCATION Lone Pine Saddle to Sunflower
LENGTH 19.3 miles
SOUTHERN TRAILHEAD: PIGEON SPRING/LONE PINE SADDLE TRAILHEAD GPS Coordinates: 33.71095° N, 111.33618° W
ACCESS From the suspension bridge near Roosevelt Dam, drive north on AZ 188 for 11 miles and turn left (west) at mile marker 255 onto El Oso Rd. (FR 143). At 4.4 miles from the highway, the road appears to fork. Take the sharp right turn and follow the road as it climbs. Continue another 4.2 miles to an intersection with FR 422, (FR 143 continues on to the south, which is also the path of the AZT). The AZT arrives from the left (southeast) on FR 143. Drive 1 mile on FR 143 to an intersection, bear left onto FR 648, and continue almost another mile to Pigeon Spring Trailhead on the left.

To reach a larger, more developed parking area and trailhead at Lone Pine Saddle a bit farther on, continue 0.5 miles ahead. Parking here allows you to hike on singletrack into the Four Peaks Wilderness and meet the AZT in about 2 miles.
NORTHERN ACCESS POINT: SUNFLOWER GPS Coordinates: 33.86250° N, 111.47278° W
ACCESS From Phoenix, take AZ 87 north to FR 22 (Bushnell Tanks Road). Turn right and park at the gate about 150 yards off the highway. This road is currently closed to vehicle traffic by Tonto National Forest. You can walk down the road about 0.5 miles and turn right at the sign and drop into Sycamore Creek flood plain. Walk up stream following the cairns and across two drainages, follow the next drainage down to and across Sycamore Creek. Climb out of the creek bed, turn right and follow the trail to the AZT. A large metal sign marks the connection to the AZT.
TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION From the Pigeon Spring Trailhead the route follows FR 648, intersects with FR 143, and turns right on this road to the junction with FR 422. This road heads northwest, then west and then north as it follows the ridgeline and keeps to roughly the same elevation. The route turns to the left (west) off of the road and onto singletrack trail at the 11.5 mile mark. After a short climb the trail begins a long descent towards the Sycamore Creek area. It crosses Boulder Creek several times, goes through a corral and a gate, and then parallels Boulder Creek. After crossing Sycamore Creek the trail works its way north and then west to Highway 87.
DIFFICULTY Moderate to Difficult

For more information about this section of the Arizona Trail visit www.aztrail.org. This information was provided by aztrail.org




#20 - Four Peaks


LOCATION Theodore Roosevelt Lake to Lone Pine Saddle
LENGTH 19.0 miles
SOUTHERN TRAILHEAD: THEODORE ROOSEVELT LAKE GPS Coordinates: 33.67650° N, 111.16104° W
ACCESS This is near Theodore Roosevelt Dam, where AZ 88 and AZ 188 meet. The parking area is at the north end of the suspension bridge, on the east side of the highway. NORTHERN TRAILHEAD: PIGEON SPRING/LONE PINE SADDLE TRAILHEAD GPS Coordinates: 33.71095° N, 111.33618° W
ACCESS From the suspension bridge near Roosevelt Dam, drive north on AZ 188 for 11 miles and turn left (west) at mile marker 255 onto El Oso Road. At 4.4 miles from the highway, the road appears to fork. Take the sharp right turn and follow the road as it climbs. Continue another 4.2 miles to an intersection with FR 422, which is the path of the AZT to the north. The AZT arrives from the southeast (left) on FR 143. Drive 1 mile on FR 143 to an intersection, bear left onto FR 648, and continue almost another mile to Pigeon Spring Trailhead on the left. Alternatively, to reach a larger, more developed parking area and trailhead at Lone Pine Saddle, continue 0.5 miles ahead. Parking here allows you to hike on singletrack into the Four Peaks Wilderness and meet the AZT in about 2 miles.
TRAIL ROUTE DESCRIPTION This passage begins on the north side of the Roosevelt Lake Bridge at the Vineyard Trailhead on Highway 188. The trail climbs immediately along Inspiration Point, passes the radio towers and then passes north of Vineyard Mountain. It climbs up to the Mills Ridge Trailhead and from here a trail (#130) continues up and reaches the Four Peaks Wilderness boundary. The trail drops into Buckhorn Creek and then goes up again, passing Hackberry Creek and finally reaching Granite Spring. From here a new section of #130 heads north and then west, skirting around Buckhorn Peak. Heading north again the trail intersects with the Alder Creek Trail (#82) and then the Oak Flat Trail (#123) where it turns left and soon reaches Shake Spring. From here the trail works its way north and west to Pigeon Spring, climbs southwest on an old roadbed, and finally comes to the Pigeon Spring Trailhead on FR 648.
DIFFICULTY Difficult

For more information about this section of the Arizona Trail visit www.aztrail.org. This information was provided by aztrail.org





Every year more hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers and trail runners are discovering the Arizona Trail.  Some only travel a few miles, or do one passage at a time, while others complete the entire trail in one season.  For information and trip planning advice, visit the Arizona Trail Association's homepage.

The Arizona Trail is divided into 43 passages. The list below contains the passages #27-#20 in order from north to south.  These specific passages are located in Gila County.  Click on the "+" sign below for more info on each access point.  

For a complete map of the entire trail click the button to the right.  This information was provided courtesy of aztrail.org

EXPLORE THE ARIZONA TRAIL IN GILA COUNTY